The Statue of Liberty, appropriately, stands at a gateway.
For the same reasons, so should Schenectady’s tribute to it.
City officials deciding the fate of the city’s 8-foot-tall replica of the Statue of Liberty should end the tug of war over the statue and return it to where it was always intended to be, in its place of honor at the gateway to the city of Schenectady in Liberty Park.
The park is located near the intersection of State Street and Washington Avenue, near Schenectady County Community College and the Stockade. It’s a focal point of downtown commerce, public transportation, biking and pedestrian use, and is located at a key entrance point to the city.
There’s simply no better place for our own Statue of Liberty to be than there.
The whole controversy over the location of the statue probably never would have arisen except that workers at the new Gateway Plaza, where Liberty Park is located, felt the statue needed to be protected during construction while the park was incorporated into the redesign and expansion of the park into the new plaza.
So it was removed from its foundation a year or so ago and placed into storage in a city garage, always with the intent of moving it back to the park when construction of the plaza was completed.
In fact, renderings of the new plaza and redesigned park contained in the final report of the City of Schenectady Gateway Plaza Implementation Plan in November 2012 specifically include a place for the statue near its original location.
The temporary removal of the statute should never have been viewed by others as an opportunity to claim it for another park in the city.
Some people have expressed concerns about the 68-year-old statue not fitting in aesthetically with the more modern buildings, landscaping and lighting in the Gateway Plaza.
Well, one might say the same thing about the original Statue of Liberty, assembled in 1886 in New York Harbor.
Could one reasonably argue that the 132-year-old statue now clashes with the modern skyscrapers of the Manhattan skyline and therefore should be removed to another location?
Not reasonably they couldn’t.
A group of people working to create a new memorial to veterans in Steinmetz Park think the statue would enhance their memorial. It certainly would.
But the statue could do the same for other locations in the city. Just because it would be great some other place doesn’t justify moving it.
Yes, given Schenectady’s many problems, one could argue there are more important issues to debate than whether one old statue belongs in one park or another.
But history and tradition help define a city as much as other factors.
And Schenectady not only is rich in history, it has made a priority of preserving it.
In keeping with that mission, this particular piece of the city’s history should be preserved in its original location.